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9/12/18 5:35 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Excitement is quickly building for this weekend’s 2:30 p.m. CT SEC West showdown on the Auburn Plains between No. 12 LSU and No. 7 Auburn. And why would it not? As Tiger fans, you don’t need me to remind you that LSU vs. Auburn is one of the most storied rivalries in college football, fueled by chop blocks and cigars, earthquakes and burning barns, a rumbling with the marching band, and countless competitive contests between two powerhouse programs. Of course, one of the most thrilling of all was last year’s “Comeback Game,” also known as “The Rally in the Valley,” in which LSU overcame a 20-point deficit to pull off the program’s greatest SEC comeback since 1977 and its largest ever come-from-behind SEC win in Tiger Stadium. Here’s an epic hype video from that game that’s sure to get your hump day started on a high note.
In today’s report, we’ll begin breaking down the big contest by looking at our weekly stat comparison of LSU and its opponent. But first, a little background on where the two teams are coming from. LSU (2-0) began the season with a 33-17 win over then-ranked No. 8 Miami in Arlington, and then followed it up with a 31-0 shutout of Southeastern La. Auburn is also 2-0 on the season and followed a similar path to get there. They defeated No. 6 Washington 21-16 in Atlanta and then put a 63-9 whooping on in-state foe Alabama State. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at the numbers.
LSU-AUBURN STAT COMPARISON
• The two Tiger teams have similar defensive numbers across the board. Each has given up roughly 74 rushing yards and just over 220 passing yards per game in their first two contests. Seeing as both teams recorded a Top-10 win in week one, these defensive numbers are quite impressive.
• Whereas Auburn and LSU are nearly identical on defense, offense is a completely different story. LSU ranks dead last in the conference with 315 yards per game this season, while Auburn is just shy of the 500-yard per contest mark.
• It wouldn’t be LSU if fans weren’t critical of LSU’s passing offense. So far in two games, the Fighting Tigers have the second least amount of passing yards per game in the league with 145.5. Despite having one of the best quarterbacks in the country, Auburn isn’t much better at 205.5.
• Somewhat surprisingly, Auburn has run the football more often than LSU has this season. Part of this has to do with the fact that they were able to run all over Alabama State. In that contest, they ran for 429 yards on 47 attempts. Don’t expect them to do anything close to that against Dave Aranda’s LSU defense.
• LSU and Auburn are two of the most penalized teams in the SEC this season. At 70.5 penalty yards per game, Auburn is the 10th most penalized team in the league. LSU is close behind at 11th with 74 penalty yards per game.
• Neither team has fared well on third down conversions. LSU is last in the conference with just a 26 percent conversion rate, while Auburn is 12th in the conference with a 39 percent conversion rate.
• Both Tiger defenses love to pressure the quarterback. As a result, the two are tied for first in the conference with nine sacks apiece. This is obviously a statistic to watch since pass protection was an issue for LSU last week and Auburn’s defensive front is one of the best LSU will face all season.
• Like LSU, the Auburn Tigers put a big emphasis on creating turnovers, and they’ve already created six through two games (four interceptions and two fumble recoveries). The LSU Tigers have forced one less turnover (three interceptions and two fumble recoveries) but have a big advantage in turnover margin because they haven’t turned the ball over. Auburn, on the other hand, has lost four fumbles.
• Where LSU dominates the stat sheet is on special teams. LSU leads in every category and is first in the conference in field goals made with a perfect 100 percent. Auburn, on the other hand, is near the bottom of the conference with just a 60 percent field goal rate. In a game as close as this one is expected to be, special teams could be the difference.
• Here’s one more interesting stat: Auburn has won 13 consecutive home games, a streak that dates back to a 2016 win over LSU. Sounds like they’re due for a loss if you ask me.
• Here’s something that may be of interest to some of you: a Q&A with LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva on Football, Facilities, and the Future, by Cody Worsham.
• SaturdayDownSouth writes: “Not every mid-September game between ranked teams has Playoff implications (looking at you, 2017 Tennessee-Florida game). But the one that will take place between No. 7 Auburn and No. 12 LSU this Saturday at Jordan-Hare does have some big-time potential Playoff implications at stake.” Here’s what they have to say about the importance of the “Tiger Bowl.
• And here’s a fun read from SBNation: 2007: The inside story of the greatest season in college football history
• Lastly, I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange with several new listings.
Have a great day, Tiger Fans.
9/11/18 5:35 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Tuesday Tidbits - Your Daily Dose of Tiger News Delivered in a Baker’s Dozen Quick Hitters
1. Five LSU players will be back from suspension when the Tigers battle Auburn this Saturday. Orgeron confirmed yesterday that Michael Divinity, Ed Alexander, Jontre Kirklin, Tory Carter, and LT Saahdiq Charles will all be available, which is certainly good news.
2. With the return of Charles, Austin Deculus will move to right tackle where he’ll compete with Badara Traore. Deculus ended the spring as the apparent front-runner for the starting role there but dropped to third string during preseason practice. Deculus looked good at left tackle against SLU in place of Charles. If he can replicate that success on the right side, LSU’s tackle positions should be considerably better this week.
3. More news on the offensive line front: Freshman Dare Rosenthal (6-8, 333) has moved from defensive end to offensive tackle. I love this move. Rosenthal was an All-State OT at Ferriday High School and a potential 5-star at the position. In fact, Nick Saban recruited him hard at the position, but one reason he chose LSU is that he was told he could get play on the defensive side of the ball. I wouldn’t expect this to be an immediate answer to LSU’s OT issues, but this appears to be a great longterm move for both Dare and LSU.
4. A lot has been made about quarterback Joe Burrow taking some hits in the LSU game and saying afterward that sliding is not in his DNA. Well, after a chat with some coaches, Burrow told the media yesterday that while he isn’t going to start “Tom Brady baseball slides,” he will “take some hits off himself.”
5. I mentioned yesterday that I would post an abbreviated grading system of LSU’s performance versus Southeastern, so here it goes… Offense gets a D+. The Tigers struggled to find a rhythm in the second half, failed to protect the quarterback, and only amassed 335 total yards and 151 passing yards against an FCS school that allowed 554 total yards and 336 passing yards against UL-M.
6. Defense gets an A-. LSU shutout an opponent in Tiger Stadium for the first time since 2014, racked up five sacks and ten tackles for loss, and forced two turnovers. The reason for the “minus” is the defense allowed SLU a few big drives and allowed 5-of-6 fourth down conversions.
7. Special teams get an A+. Cole Tracy kicked the first field goal of at least 50 yards in Tiger Stadium since Nov. 13, 2010, and remained a perfect (5-for-5) on the season. Avery Atkins kicked off five times with five touchbacks, while Zach Von Rosenburg averaged 44.3 yards per punt with a long of 59 yards and pinned the Lions inside their 20 four times. Jonathon Giles’ lone punt return went for 20 yards.
8. While LSU’s defense and special teams provide lots of reasons for optimism, there’s no question LSU’s offense will have to improve considerably to come away with a victory this weekend on The Plains. Vegas doesn’t give LSU a big chance of doing that, as evidenced by the fact that LSU opened as a double-digit underdog (10 points) in the game.
9. Like stats? Well, we’ll have plenty tomorrow but for now here are a couple of interest: LSU tweeted yesterday that Cole Tracy ranks first among all ACTIVE collegiate kickers (no matter the division) in career field goals with 73. Tracy made 68 field goals at DII Assumption College and has made 5 for LSU. Also, six of LSU’s seven TDs this year have come from players scoring their first career touchdown. The list includes Nick Brossette, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, and Jacob Phillips. Also, LSU has used 13 first-time starters during the first two weeks of the season – 11 vs. Miami and two more vs. SE Louisiana.
10. Make plans for another “Saturday Night in Tiger Stadium,” folks. The LSU vs. Louisiana Tech game is set to kick off next Saturday, September 22, at 6 p.m. CT and will be televised on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.
12. So just how big will this weekend’s battle of Tigers be? Well, in this article, The New York Times calls it the nation’s biggest game yet in the 2018 football season. It says both Tigers have burned brighter than practically any other team and that LSU has looked at least as good as Auburn. Whether you agree with that or not, it’s good to see LSU get that kind of praise on a national level. No doubt about it, a win this weekend would make a huge statement at a national level and would be a humungous feather in Ed Orgeron’s hat. In tomorrow’s report, we’ll begin breaking down the matchup with a statistical comparison of the two teams.
Have a great day, Tiger Fans!
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